City Council was right to ask commissioner to explain...


May 27, 2001

City Council was right to ask commissioner to explain dismissals

I need to respond to a number of letters regarding the recent controversy in the Baltimore Police Department ("City Council must let police commissioner run his department," May 18).

Citizens need to be reminded that our police department has a fairly recent history of racial bigotry and criminal activity and that, in fact, investigations into such activities are still under way.

They should also consider the fact that rumors abounded about the integrity of the commissioner's decision to fire the four officers, as well as about other serious issues regarding the police department.

Considering those things, the City Council's call for Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris to answer questions was totally appropriate. It not only served as a forum to discuss allegations of impropriety, but demonstrated that he would be held accountable for his actions and showed citizens that their concerns about the police department would be heard.

Questions about procurement, hiring and promotion policies, training, disparate punishment of officers and policing tactics that may infringe upon citizens' civil rights were obviously on the minds of citizens and elected officials.

We should all take comfort in the fact that we have leaders who are willing to open the doors of public discussion when they believe that it serves public good.

As a citizen of this city, I would have considered them to be derelict in their duties if they had done otherwise.

Michael V. Dobson


The writer represents the 43rd District in the House of Delegates.

Baltimore's City Council provides little leadership

Barry Rascovar's column "Keep politics out of policing" (Opinion

Commentary, May 20) was on target.

Baltimore's alleged black leaders are quick to shout "racism" on almost any occasion, to the point where it almost seems that they would rather have a high crime rate, including murder, so long as a black man or woman is running the show.

Did any of these alleged leaders think beyond the color of the skin of Deputy Commissioner Barry Powell and Col. James L. Hawkins when Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris replaced them?

And what of the two white officers Mr. Norris removed? One has not heard any outcry concerning their removal.

Is being black a qualification for leadership, or is the City Council once again playing politics with the Police Department? The council has played this game before, too many times, and never to the long-lasting benefit of the department.

The City Council's best move would be to keep quiet and let Mr. Norris and his command staff run the department. If, at the end of his term, the commissioner and the department have not performed up to expectations, then replace him.

Robert A. Erlandson


Barry Rascovar's column "Keep politics out of policing" was absolutely correct.

It's often been said that the biggest problems the city faces are education, crime and a dwindling population, not necessarily in that order. Another looming problem is the dearth of intelligent, competent leadership - and the City Council is a fine example.

Randy Schmitt


Perhaps Edward Norris should seek greener pastures

After watching the news and reading the articles in The Sun regarding the firing of four city police officers, I have come to this conclusion: Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris is too good for Baltimore. He should resign and go somewhere that is more deserving of him.

Undoubtedly, a man of his capabilities would have no trouble finding work.

Then maybe City Council President Shelia Dixon and her cohorts on the City Council, in all their infinite wisdom, can somehow figure out how to save this criminal-infested city.

Ronald Stearns

Bel Air

Phonics and dedication improve city schools

I'm elated that Baltimore schools made great improvement on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills ("Improving test scores hailed as turnaround," May 18). I am most impressed with the great strides first-graders have made, which prove that all children can learn, regardless of socioeconomic background.

Small classes, the new reading series, a strong program of phonics instruction and extra funding from the state all contributed to these impressive results.

And, as a retired Baltimore teacher, I would add that dedication to the job is also a cause of these positive results.

Lola J. Massey

Owings Mills

If drinking water isn't safe, don't blame President Bush

I take issue with some terminology in the letter "Can't Republicans think for themselves?" (May 17). In particular, "Will not Republican children also drink President Bush's arsenic-laden water."

The water we are drinking today, and have been drinking for years, is not "arsenic-laden." And it certainly isn't "President Bush's arsenic-laden water."

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